United States Geography – planning ideas

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  • Wings2fly

    We are using Beautiful Feet history this year and are studying Jamestown, Virginia right now. When we were studying ancient history and Middle Ages, we would pick a country each month to explore their culture. Now that we are studying early American history, I’d like to learn about the 50 United States by picking one per week – “The State of the Week”. I would like to study them either in order of East to West OR by date admitted to the union.

    Has anyone done something like this before and can share how they did it?

    Can anyone suggest any good books for doing this?

    Resources I have now:

    1 Scrambled States game and picturebook and maps

    2 U.S. and Canada geopuzzle

    3 Dover 50 States coloring book

    I am thinking of spending 2 – 3 days per week learning about the state of the week:

    Day 1: Introduction with first 2 books listed here and the Dover coloring book

    Day 2: Reading a CM living book about that state, with narration

    Day 3: Playing a game or puzzle

    Would it be too much to also have them draw the state shape in their history notebook and have a copywork sentence to go along with the state once a week?

    Books to read-aloud, which I already own:

    1. Greetings from the 50 States: How They Got Their Names by Sheila Keenan – for introduction since it tells about the state’s name. There are 2 pages per state: one page with artwork for the state shape and what is found there and the other page is the narrative.

    2. Don’t Know Much About the 50 States by Kenneth C. Davis – one page for each state with 2 or 3 paragraphs of facts for that state.

    3. Holling’s Minn of the Missippi and Paddle-to-the-Sea for read-aloud literature

    The other few books I have picked up at used book sales are mostly dull, dry facts of each state, covering 1 – 2 pages. I do not plan to use them. I am not looking for a book of facts or trivia about the states, but something that gives them an idea of what exists in that area of land on the map and what it would be like if they could really travel there. Any ideas?


    1) How the States Got Their Shapes, http://www.amazon.com/How-States-Got-Their-Shapes/dp/B005ELVCDY/ref=pd_sim_b_2

    Not sure what age on this 4 disc set by the History Channel. Anyone know? There is also a book of the same title, but for older students.

    2) Our 50 States: A Family Adventure across America by Lynne Cheney, http://www.amazon.com/Our-50-States-Adventure-America/dp/0689867174/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1326614299&sr=1-1 Anything political here?

    3) Wish You Were Here by Kathleen Krull, http://www.amazon.com/Wish-Were-Here-Kathleen-Krull/dp/038531146X/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1326614570&sr=1-3

    Can you recommend any good CM resources to use for the 50 States?

    Is there some great US geography CM curriculum out there somewhere that I am missing?

    My children are grades K and 2. Thanks.


    You could also do the presidents at the same time. This way you could kill two birds with one stone and give their memory a little more recall for the state they lived in.  Just an idea. 🙂


    I’m currently in the middle of a 50 states study with a second grader. I found (and I hope these are living books since I recommend them a lot) the Discover America series by Sleeping Bear Press.


    I supplement them whenever I can with biographies and historical picture books and easy readers. We’re going in order of statehood.

    I follow this blog but haven’t used her curriculum:


    Her posts might give you some ideas. You have to purchase the curriculum to get her lapbook, though (if you’re into that sort of thing).

    I haven’t used any of the books you’ve mentioned, so I can’t help you there.





    I have been trying to do a study myself and have failed miserablyUndecided.  What we have planned for geography for this year (and I’d say last year, too) just hasn’t been working.  Not trying to say that my kids haven’t learned anything, but I feel that I have to start over in some areas and get control of what we’re doing, blah, blah, blah.

    We have several of the supplies that you have (Geopuzzle, Don’t Know Much About, and the Holling books).  On Monday I’m going to plan something that I found on Currclick (notebooking pages) about the United States (it was $2.75).  This one I’ll use with all 3 boys.  Then I’ll add in Maps of the USA from Evan Moor.  I can make copies for each boy (I’m especially thinking for my 6yo and 9yo, my 12 already used this book, so I don’t know about him yet, and it’s geared for grades 1-6).  I could use it for him, as well, and just add in more research or a geo living book to read on his own, don’t know.  We’re still doing map drills of North America once per week and that’s going OK.  My oldest does well with it (he has a good memory for that type of thing), but my younger kids need more time.

    This is one subject that I love, but find that I’m all over the map, literally.  Having so many supplies may have messed me up, but then not having enough is kind of boring.  With that said, my kids really like geography, so I try to have a variety of things, but then I have too many things going on and don’t always feel accomplished, *sigh*.

    Speaking of Presidents, (my middle boy loves to learn about them)….Currclick has something called Presidential Notebooking (or something like that) for .99. I bought that, too, since it was so cheap.  It comes with each President’s picture in the corner with lined areas/blank areas for writing/drawing.  That may be more than what you wanted but my 9yo is really into them and since it was so cheap and obviously US related I bought it.

    Hope this helps.  I’m going to check out the supplies you and Karen mentioned, as well. 


    @ Karen,

    I love that series of Discover America that you shared. However, it is so expensive, I would have to rely on my library. My library does have at least some of them, but I have to type in the title like “B is for Buckeye”. I’m going to try to schedule some holds on these to have the books on the right week. 😉

    I also checked out the US geography curriculum, but it seems more “facts” than narrative. I already have the Dover coloring book and books with facts. That is a nice looking program, though. I like the idea of the travel journal.

    @ my3boys,

    Hopefully we can both find something that works. I have not used notebooking pages before. My oldest will be 8 soon, and in grade 2. Although that is a great idea, I’m afraid that may be too much writing for their ages. I am looking for oral narrations and a one or two sentence copywork with a picture to color or draw.

    I found another book and site. The book only goes through 15 northern states of travels by a school teacher and her photographer husband. They sent out daily e-mails to classrooms of their travels of a postcard style and are available on their website. But it is not exactly the resource I am looking for. The book seems like it is written more for older students or adults, from what I can tell from the sample pages. http://www.postcardsfrom.com/t1/arcin.html

    I want a book that includes all 50 states from a personal, diary-type narrative of what it is like to be in that state. Wouldn’t that make a good living book?

    Think Castle Diary here. I think the two I listed above may be this type of book, but wanted someone’s input on how good the book is.

    So…I am thinking of writing a book for children now…


    Yes, I agree that the writing in the President notebook would be alot, I just added that since chocodog had mentioned it.

    Looking again at this Maps of the USA…I think I’m going to give each boy a copy and have them color the state bird/flower/map the correct color (as close as we can get) and put those in a notebook.  In the book they’re alphabetized, but they do have their admission dates, so I’ll decide later on which way I’d like them organized. 

    See, this is something that I need to narrow down as to what I’m going to use!!  I really love geography day, but feel I’ve not stuck to a plan, good or bad, lol.  We’re also using Legends and Leagues for overall geography (whose idea was that?) and my younger boys really like it…it’s not solely US, so that’s why I’m still in the market for US items.  



    I have to get the Discover America series from my library, too, but so far it’s working out. If you’d like my list of books I’m using to supplement, pm me with your email address and I’ll send it to you.


    Karen, are there more books than the 51 in the Discover America series? Because I found a list of those books by the title and related state already. Thanks.


    Well, I started with Discover America, Simply Stated, and a 50 states booklist I found online (don’t remember where) and then scoured my library catalogs for more. My list is actually 14 pages, but I haven’t used them all. Sometimes I spend more than one week on a state depending on what I’m able to get. But US geography is all we’re doing in that area this year. We’re only doing history as it relates to the state we’re studying.

    Christine Kaiser

    We just did State puzzles so far but I already have “Paddle to the sea” and plan to use this next year along with the google earth plug-in. You can follow “paddle” on it’s journey on google earth and along the journey google earth provides pictures of the area, background information on local wildlife etc. Smile

    Sorry, forgot to post the link where you can download the plug in. The file is on the bottom of the right column.



    We are currently using Galloping the Globe by Geography Matters and our kiddos are loving it.  The same company also offers a book called Cantering the Country that looks very similiar in nature but you study the U.S. instead of the world.  I’m not sure what ages you’re looking for but Geography Matters has a wealth of resources for this type of study.  http://www.curriculum-for-homeschool.com/category/geography-books


    Also, A Helping Hand publishes a book called 50 States Under God by Joy Dean.  It says, “A study of all 50 states in the order of statehood with a time line summary and a progressive map study summarizing the building of our nation.”  This is more of a lapbook/notebook study.  




    Hope that helps, Melissa


    Does anyone know how good this State and President curriulum from KnowledgeQuest is for this study?



    I have the KQ book. It’s not a living book, but is more of a fact book. It looks good for what it is, but won’t make for wonderful reading.


    Well, I’m going to get the first two books by Lynne Cheney and Kathleen Krull from the library. If I like what I see, I’ll let you know and then order what I like for our state studies.

    Thanks, Christie. I really am looking for “wonderful reading” for this.


    My kids started a collection of the state quarters when we did our study of the states.

    My girls’ favorite part of a state study was the state’s bird and flower.

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